Efficacy of Intraoperative Neurophysiologic Monitoring for Pediatric Cervical Spine Surgery

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Study Design.

Clinical case series.


To investigate the efficacy of intraoperative neuromonitoring in pediatric cervical spine surgery.

Summary of Background Data.

Intraoperative neuromonitoring (IONM) consisting of somatosensory-evoked potentials (SSEP) and transcranial motor-evoked potentials (tcMEP) has been shown to effectively prevent permaneny neurologic injury in deformity surgery. The role of IONM during pediatric cervical spine surgery is not well documented. Advances in cervical spine instrumentation have expanded the surgical options in pediatric populations. The goal of this study is to report the ability of IONM to detect neurologic injury during pediatric cervical spine instrumentation.


A single institution database was queried for pediatric-aged patients who underwent cervical spine instrumentation and fusion between 2011 and 2014. Age, diagnosis, surgical indication, number of instrumented levels, and a complete IONM were extracted. Sensitivity and specificity for the detection of neurologic deficits were calculated with exact 95% confidence intervals. Positive and negative predictive values were calculated with estimated 95% confidence intervals.


Sixty-seven patients who underwent cervical spine instrumentation were identified with a mean age of 11.6 years (range 1–18). Diagnoses included instability (27), congenital (11), kyphosis (8), fracture (7), tumor (7), arthritis (4), and basilar invagination (3). Mean number of vertebral levels fused was 4 (range 2–7). All patients underwent cervical instrumentation with SSEP and tcMEP monitoring. A significant change in tcMEP monitoring was observed in 7 subjects (10%). There were no corresponding SSEP changes in these patients. The sensitivity of combined IONM was 75% [95% CI = 24.9, 98.7] and the specificity was 98.5% [92.7, 99.9].


tcMEP is a more sensitive indicator to spinal cord injury than SSEP, which is consistent with previous studies. IONM changes in 10% of a patient population are significant enough to warrant intraoperative determination if true SCI has occurred or is underway and intervene accordingly.


Level of Evidence: 4

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